Rotary Club of Phillipsburg

April Angel


April Angel

(To be published in Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul 7/ 2011)

by Joe Gurneak

"Not the smallest of prayers nor slightest deeds of kindness goes unnoticed by God."

As I sat in church several weeks ago, my mind began to wander. This happens at times, although I try to concentrate on prayer or at least reflect on what is being said. I thought back to a happening a year ago that seemed like an every day occurrence, but then the realization set in that the little story now seemed to have a deeper meaning or perhaps a message.

It was year ago in April on a cold, rainy afternoon. The kind of dismal rain that chilled to the bone. I ducked into a grocery store in Paterson, New Jersey, to buy a sandwich and soda. As I waited for my order, a boy of about ten came in. At first, I paid no attention, but then he approached me. "Say mister," his soft spoken voice asked "would you buy me a lottery ticket? My dad’s outta work." He produced a dollar’s worth of change, mostly pennies. "Sure", I replied, as he handed over the money. It was my guess that there was exactly one dollar. I bought ten dollars in pick six tickets for the boy and ten for myself. I handed the ten tickets to him. He looked up at me without expression and quietly said, "thanks". "Hey wait" I said, "here’s your dollar back. All that change will weigh down my pocket." Then he took a step back and bowed his head for a moment. It looked like he was praying. He then looked up at me and said, " Ya know, Jesus listens to prayers". There was a radiant softness in his big brown eyes. His shirt and pants were dripping wet. He should have had a jacket on since the rain and temperature made for quite a raw afternoon. I studied him for a moment. Life was certainly not easy for this young person, trying to help his family. The young boy slipped the tickets into his pocket and disappeared out into the pouring rain without looking back. As he struggled to ride an old bike that had a bent front wheel, I was sorry that I didn’t do more to help him. (continued in bulletin)


I was deeply touched by the boy’s faith. At that moment, I had a silent wish that there was a saint to pray to in charge of the lottery, as I wished to take the huge burden off the small boy’s mind. Then I wondered how many of us pray to win the lottery to ease the financial burden the world places upon our shoulders. I must admit, there are times I’ve even asked for this intercession when financial times were really bad. I did not win the lottery and, of course, I don’t know if my young friend met with any success. Now this should be the end of the story. However, while in church this particular Sunday, it dawned on me that just two weeks after this happening, I received a letter via Federal Express that I had won $5000 in a contest. At first, I thought it was some type of scam. I quickly threw the letter in the garbage. After giving it some thought the next day, I retrieved the correspondence. I read it over and over again. It seemed as though I did indeed win $5000, no strings attached. I called the telephone number on Monday to verify the winning. I was told that I was a "finalist" and I needed to return certain information requested. I inquired how many "finalists" there were and was informed just one, me! I returned the information and within a week I received a check for $5000!

It is truly remarkable how total strangers come into our lives, however brief, and leave tiny footprints on our minds and hearts. For a few moments, their life journey intersects with ours and they leave us so very much richer in spirit.

The little quote at the beginning of the story is something I wrote many years ago in a little book of original quotes and poems called "Little Thoughts on Love and Life." I would like to think what I wrote is true. Or, perhaps, could it be that I met the "lottery angel" in the form of a small boy with soft radiant brown eyes on a rainy spring afternoon?